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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

UAE

Advert for UAE nursery teacher with 'white skin' puts spotlight on race issues in job market

The group, Happy Jump Nurseries, said it posted the advert for the purposes of diversity

A nursery group is under fire for posting a job advert seeking English teachers of “European origin and white skin”.

Happy Jump Nurseries, which operates branches in six locations in the UAE, posted the advert on the Jobs in UAE — Dubai Facebook page on Saturday.

The advert, which calls for candidates to hold a bachelor of education degree and be fluent in English, has since been removed.

A principal at one of the branches said the advert was posted for the purposes of diversity, and she did not understand why some people objected.

Meera Aqwala, the principal of Happy Jump Nursery in Al Ain, said the majority of the chain’s staff were “black”.

“We have many branches and there are maybe three [white people] in all of the branches,” she said.

“So we need only to put some white people in. They are very good, our black staff, and we will still hire them. But we need at least one white person.”

A job advert posted on a Facebook group looking for an English teacher with 'white skin'. 

Ms Aqwala said parents “always” ask about what nationality their teachers are.

“And we need only to put another white person to make a change,” she said.

In 2015, a federal law was brought in to combat discrimination of all kinds and the Ministry of Labour's advice hotline on Sunday said such a job advert would breach that law.

But law firms said it would not extend to job adverts.

Gender and nationality-specific adverts are widespread in parts of the UAE labour market.

Last month, The National was told that employers are missing out on suitable candidates when listing positions that call for specific genders and nationalities, and they often end up hiring the wrong person as a result.

Toby Simpson, a former managing director at a recruitment company, who has 11 years’ experience working in the industry in the UAE, said he had never seen a job advert that specified a candidate’s skin colour.

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“It has not been applied to recruitment yet,” said Mr Simpson.

He said discriminating on the basis of nationality is “more excusable” when it is done for the purposes of diversity.

“For example, a lot of tech employees are South Indian and for the interest of diversity they try to get other nationalities as well. It can be for slightly more noble reasons,” he said.

Keren Bobker, an independent financial adviser and columnist for The National, said while it was “not uncommon” to see adverts specifying a candidate’s nationality, it was more rare to see requests for a certain skin colour.

“That is why this particular advert has caused such a reaction,” she said.

“Companies regularly advertise asking for specific nationalities, or just state European, and we know what they are getting at. It still isn’t right to categorise people in this way.”

Nationality is often a code for a salary range, she said, but to be as personal as discriminating against someone for a skin colour, which doesn’t even always correlate to a nationality, seems even more “unpleasantly personal,” said Ms Bobker.

The UAE is home to residents from up to 200 countries who are employed across a variety of sectors.